This Southwestern chicken pasta bake features cavatappi pasta, roasted chicken, black beans, corn and salsa and covers it all in a rich homemade pepper Jack cheese sauce. It’s not only a family pleasing one-dish- meal but it’s like macaroni and cheese with a little sass.
I’m a one-dish-meal fan. My family is just like yours between school, sports, friends and family our days are crazy busy and filled with extra-curricular activities. That’s not a bad thing at all but, can make meal-time difficult some days. One-dish-meals keep life simple and in general reheat well if we find ourselves at the supper table at different times. Kicked-up pasta dishes like this one nestle vegetables into the mix, adding to the flavor without the kids protesting. It’s a beautiful thing.
Southwestern Chicken Cavatappi
- 12 oz dry cavatappi pasta
- 5 Tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 3 cup milk
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 1/2 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese divided
- 3 Tbsp taco or fiesta seasoning i.e. McCormick
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp Mexican oregano
- 3 cup roughly chopped rotisserie chicken
- 1 cup black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup frozen corn with peppers thawed
- 1/2 cup thick and chunky salsa plus additional for serving
- 4 green onion sliced (Reserve 2 Tbsp for garnish)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Cook the pasta in salted water per the package directions until al dente then drain well.
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter then add the flour. Cook over medium-high stirring until the flour has dissolved.
- Whisk in the garlic salt, pepper and 3 cups milk. Bring to a boil, then immediately lower the heat ti medium-low whisking constantly. Allow to gently bubble for 5 minutes then add 2 cups cheese.
- Remove from the heat and stir until the cheese melts. Add the taco seasoning, ground cumin and oregano mixing well.
- Add the cooked pasta, chopped chicken, black beans, corn,and green onion to a large mixing bowl. Pour the sauce on top and mix well.
- Pour 1/2 into the baking dish. Dollop the salsa over the pasta, then sprinkle lightly with 3/4 cup pepper Jack cheese. Top with the remaining pasta and finish the top with the last 3/4 cup shredded cheese.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until bubbly around the edge and the cheese is golden.
- Garnish with reserved green onion.
- Serve immediately with additional salsa on top, if desired. .
Cavatappi or corkscrew pasta is a twisted elbow pasta with ridges. Large elbow macaroni could be used, if desired.
It's important to use a thick and chunky salsa either mild, medium or hot your preference.